Monthly Archives: February 2016

Greece

Eating vegetarian in urban Greece is a breeze. With English widely spoken and a cosmopolitan population, Athens is a haven for foodies, whether you prefer restaurant-style food or roadside stands. Tzatziki (that delicious cucumber-dill dip) served with warm pita is as common as air in these parts. Every taverna, hole-in-wall establishment and restaurant serves at least this as its vegetarian offering, if nothing else. More often, though, they will serve pita pockets stuffed with various fresh vegetables topped with a generous dollop of tzatziki. Love.

Smaller towns, especially over holiday seasons or in the winter, may not offer much choice to vegetarians. In such a case, head over to the town square to gauge your best bet — usually a pizzeria or a local pub-type place will be open for business and will lazily serve you up their only veggie item on menu: you guessed it. It has to be said, I did not encounter a single bad tzatziki experience.

Another common menu item is vegetables (commonly green pepper, tomato) stuffed with a rice mixture served with homestyle french fries. This can be a hit or miss. Some places serve soggy vegetable husks stuffed with mediocre at best rice. Best to avoid if you can ascertain before ordering. Those classically Greek dishes such as moussaka that might be available in vegetarian versions elsewhere are always meat laden in their native state. No go. Also, hummous is NOT Greek. (What!)

Even though Greece does vegetarianism fairly well, you would do well to remember it is a meat-eating and meat-loving country. Plan accordingly.

A word of caution: Unless you care for the taste of burnt toast mixed to a sludge in muddy hot water, Greek coffee is best left to the locals who’ve grown up on the taste. Be warned.

Ireland

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As pretty Ireland is, eating vegetarian meals while travelling is no issue here. While you may not be able to sample traditional Irish cuisine dominant in various stews and the fabled Limerick ham, a little specialty known as the potato will see you through.

Irish potatoes and small roadside stands selling this national crop are as ubiquitous as the green countryside. Although the many detours offering sackfuls of potatoes at farmer prices are of no use to a tourist, it does guarantee you any number of tasty hashes, patties and mashes. Colcannon, a mashed potato dish including cabbage and cream, should tick your box for trying a traditional food although the quality of it can be varying depending on the establishment.

Since language is no issue (or is it? The local accents can be quite hard to understand at times), it is easy to ascertain the ingredients of a suspicious looking soup or stew. Smaller restaurants or family owned places are mostly happy to accommodate you if there’s nothing vegetarian on the menu, especially in the rural countryside. If nothing else, pizza, salad, sandwiches, etc. are easily and widely available with plenty of vegetarian options. Bigger cities have all the major global food chains should you be so inclined.

Overall, Ireland poses no problems for vegetarian travellers. Teetotalers, on the other hand, may have bigger issues in Guinness-land. “Irish You Luck”!

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